Electrical safety firstThe Housing and Planning Bill has been passed to the House of Commons heralding wide-ranging changes to the planning process in England as well as improved electrical safety thanks to amendments encouraged by Electrical Safety First.

Commenting on the Bill, ESF Director General Phil Buckle said: "We welcome the Government’s willingness to consider incorporating our amendment – which has gained the support of the Minister for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis, and a range of stakeholders, including the Local Government Association, Shelter, the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Association of Residential Letting Agents – as a clause in this Bill.

"Electricity causes around half of all domestic fires in Great Britain, killing one person each week and severely injuring well over a quarter of a million each year – significantly higher figures than those caused by gas and carbon monoxide - with research suggesting private tenants are more at risk. And in 2014, 16% of PRS tenants experienced electrical hazards, increasing to 20% for those with children. Yet there is no legal requirement for landlords to undertake regular electrical checks, unlike the regulations for gas, where they must provide an annual safety certificate."

The Bill has had its first two readings in the floor of the Commons and now draft legislation proceeds to report stage for further debate and amendments, before receiving a third and final reading in the Commons. The provisional date for the first day of remaining stages on the bill is Tuesday 5 January 2016. It aims to make provision about housing, estate agents, rentcharges, planning and compulsory purchase.

Electrical Safety First has called for mandatory, five-yearly safety checks, by a competent person, of the electrical installations in all PRS properties – along with any electrical appliances supplied with them. The Charity has successfully fought to have these essential safety checks provided to PRS tenants in Scotland and has also gained cross-party support for this issue in Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Electrical danger is invisible, often lying undiscovered until an accident occurs”, added Buckle. “But the damage it causes to homes and buildings runs into billions of pounds, while the human cost cannot be measured. Yet the cost of this essential precaution is minimal and a small price to pay to protect people and property.”